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Posts Tagged ‘Camille Isaacs Morell’

August 15, 1993, was to have been the luckiest day in my life.  I landed in Montreal, Canada, as a permanent resident with a job already lined up!  Fluent in French and with a degree from a North American university, I was hired as a management trainee in a major Canadian institution.  Unlike most new immigrants to Canada, the obstacles of language, foreign qualifications and Canadian work experience were not standing in my way.  As you can see from my first professional photograph, my big, long hair framed a bright-eyed, smiling face that was filled with optimism.

Six months later, I was telling a different story.

I was struggling in an unhappy work environment with colleagues who were unhelpful and insensitive to my efforts to ‘fit in.’   And it was nobody’s fault.

I came from a hierarchical, formal workplace culture in the Jamaican public sector where ”junior officers” were expected to learn by listening attentively and taking notes in meetings with their “seniors.”  Meritocracy, the quality of written reports and giving the right information when it was asked for, put you on the path to promotion and success.  In Canada, I didn’t understand that it was okay and expected of trainees to speak up, participate and ask challenging questions in meetings with clients.  The feedback I got from my politically correct Canadian colleagues was that they viewed me as shy.  A few others bluntly questioned my level of interest and enthusiasm for the job.  This all came as a surprise.  Far from being shy, I have always been passionate about my work.

Caught in a mire of cultural misunderstanding, my experience was a source of bewilderment for both me and my employer.   According to a 2012 report by the Progress Career Planning Institute, the challenge persists to this day.   Workplace acculturation – the adoption of behaviours that are in harmony with the corporate culture – is a major hurdle for professional immigrants when trying to establish a career.

There is tremendous focus on attracting immigrant employees, language learning, cultural educational programs, fast-tracking foreign students’ permanent resident applications and, most importantly, guiding immigrants through the job search process.  But once the job offer is accepted, it must not be assumed that all is well.

‘Diversity’ is a politically correct buzzword 

During my job search prior to migrating to Canada, virtually every organization listed diversity among its corporate values.  Job postings and brochures had standard statements announcing the organization’s commitment to diversity, surrounded by photos of groups of smiling multi-ethnic employees.  There was no mention of workplace acculturation programs in recruitment materials and I didn’t feel the need to ask.

Now that workplace diversity is commonplace, diversity statistics may provide a breakdown of various groups within the employee population, but the experience of employees, whether reported or observed, can tell a different story.

Focus on workplace integration – for all employees

Rather than focusing primarily on hiring a diverse workforce, Canadian employers should take specific steps towards creating an integrated workforce – a place where everyone feels that they “fit in.”  When my colleagues joked that I was “different,” I didn’t quite understand what that meant.  It left me wondering quite often whether being different was a good or bad thing, and if I was fitting in.

Every employer wants a good fit between new employees and company culture.  This can be complicated when the new employee is an immigrant; and yet, how well current employees integrate with new immigrants is equally important. There is a case to be made for new immigrants and their Canadian colleagues to participate in workplace acculturation programs.

Based on my own work and integration experience, I would have the following recommendations for employers of new immigrants:

  • Avoid setting up programs designed specifically for ethnic groups, as this may lead to the creation of silos and a source of resentment for other employees.
  • Provide immediate peer support and allow for an adjustment period to allow new immigrant employees and their Canadian colleagues to work on integration.
  • Guide new immigrants towards social media networks and professional groups and encourage participation in the organization’s social events.
  • Stop giving and accepting “cultural differences” as an easy excuse for poor integration. Provide cross-cultural workshops and forums for open communication and conflict resolution.
  • Give new immigrants opportunities to apply their foreign experience: it may provide the organization with new ways of doing business, and even provide a competitive advantage.
  • Build mentorship programs for new immigrants, especially those in leadership positions and who are people managers, to ensure that cultural differences do not affect team-building and performance evaluation.

In my case, I was fortunate to meet several business contacts early on, and they introduced me to professional networks and associations.  It was through interacting with a good mix of foreign-born and Canadian colleagues that I learned more about the Canadian business environment, expanded my network and progressed in my career.  While I may still seem “different” at times, I work effectively with my Canadian co-workers, and they value my contribution and international experience.

Immigrants are here to stay…and more are coming

The Conference Board of Canada  says Canada will have to rely on immigration to fill gaps in a workforce depleted by slow growth and an aging population.    Statistics Canada predicts nearly half of Canada’s population will be immigrants, or children of immigrants, in less than 20 years from now.  In other words, the need for workplace acculturation programs is not going away.

 

Camille Isaacs-Morell came to Canada nearly 24 years ago from Jamaica and the USA where she gained extensive experience working with persons of various ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds.  She is a marketing professional and volunteer, passionately committed to making an impactful contribution to the creation of a truly integrated global village, where everyone has a fair chance to be successful.  

See the BIG picture.  Focus on what’s important.

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

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This is the text of an article I wrote which was published in the Sunday Gleaner in Jamaica on 23 April 2017.

The article is one in a series sponsored by the University of the West Indies, highlighting the relevance and value of an education in the arts and humanities.

multi_mon24

It came as no surprise when I told my parents that I wanted to study foreign languages at the University of the West Indies (UWI). My father, an educator specialising in physics and mathematics, and my mother, a career civil servant in the financial stream, always encouraged my sister and me to excel academically and develop our talents in a wide range of extra-curricular activities. They believed that this was how we would find out what we really wanted to do in life.

During my years at Immaculate Conception High School, I learnt foreign languages easily and excelled in history and English language and literature, where essays and term papers were frequently assigned. I was at ease meeting and speaking with foreigners in Jamaica, Europe, North America, and the Caribbean, and these experiences piqued my curiosity about foreign cultures and would later serve to complement my love of languages in a way that would benefit my career.

The sweeping social and political changes in the 1970s during my teenage years gave me the burning desire to ‘do something’ to change Jamaica and the world. By far, the best years of my life were spent at UWI, where I pursued a bachelor’s in language and linguistic studies. Like my batchmates, I was ‘in my element’ learning from an interesting mix of professors from Germany, France, Spain, El Salvador, Haiti, Colombia, and Guyana. In the course of study, we were required to research foreign and local issues and to express our opinions in all of the foreign languages we were studying. We were graded for accuracy in grammar and vocabulary as well as for depth of analysis and critical thinking.

I remember my father telling me that although it was important to master the foreign languages, it was even more important for me to master the skills of critical, innovative thinking, effective communication, and the ability to quickly adapt to new business situations in order to be a successful applicant for a job. I gained all this and more during my time in the BA programme at UWI.

Beyond the academic training, there were other experiences at the UWI that were to shape my view of the world and my career. Along with my classmates, I was deeply involved in organising student-exchange programmes with the Universidad AutÛnoma de Santo Domingo, French Students’ weekend retreats, German Days, Foreign Language Students’ concerts, lectures, and language club activities with visitors from various embassies in Kingston.

Immersed in a sea of intercultural experiences, our minds were opened to diverse political thought and philosophies. As much as we learnt about other cultures, we also taught others about our own.

SOUGHT OPPORTUNITIES

Along the way, I met many people who questioned the value of studying foreign languages and an arts degree. Instead of trying to provide them with the ‘right’ answers, I actively and eagerly sought opportunities to put my training to work. I was a liaison aide at the United Nations Law of the Sea Conference and the Organization of American States General Assembly, which were hosted in Jamaica. I spent my summers as an intern at the Jamaica Tourist Board. Many people I met had studied the arts and humanities and told me how they had forged successful career paths in business, government, and international relations. I realised then that the options were many and that my proficiency in foreign languages gave me an advantage.

After university, I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in the Protocol and Consular Division. There, I had the opportunity to translate official documents and serve as the interpreter in meetings with very senior officials. This is where I learnt about the main issues of the day in international politics, trade, travel, tourism, and law. I observed first hand how language and communication in all its forms played into business deal-making and international relations.

With this experience, I gladly accepted new challenges to serve in the Economic and Foreign Trade Divisions in the ministry and represent Jamaica at international conferences in the Caribbean and the Americas. I witnessed the emerging trends in globalisation and the increasing role of the private sector in international trade.

I decided to do an MBA in international business and marketing at the University of Miami, where at that time, the focus was on preparing a new generation of global business leaders. This degree opened doors to a career in the private sector in Jamaica and then in Montreal, Canada, where I currently reside. My academic training in languages at the UWI continues to be of great value. I communicate daily in French, which is the language of business in Montreal, the largest city in the French Canadian province of Quebec.

My desire as a teenager “to do something” for Jamaica and the world has morphed into a career in marketing in global institutions. In the various roles I have played, I have been involved in the creation of multilingual marketing communication programmes, international trade finance and credit-risk assessment, and the development of global brands, while managing teams of persons with diverse backgrounds.

Over the years, I have been, and still am, a committed volunteer, where my training in business and in the arts has been considered to be of added value. I currently serve on the board of directors of the YWCA-Montreal, an organisation whose clientele consists of a large number of immigrants who are being equipped to become fully integrated into the society. I have been invited to write articles and speak in English and French at churches to youth groups and professional associations, mainly on topics related to personal and professional development in a multicultural society.

In a world where technological innovation is held as the gold standard for progress, and where students are encouraged to pursue purely technical degree programmes, it should never be forgotten that technology is only valuable if it meets people’s needs. Often, my colleagues and business associates who do not have any formal training in the arts and humanities express appreciation for the broader perspectives and recommendations that I have brought to technical projects, particularly with regard to clients’ needs.

I truly believe that my foundation in the arts, more specifically the degree programme at the UWI, has led me take an analytic approach that presents diverse opinions and perspectives of various stakeholders, which is critical to understanding and successfully meeting clients’ needs.

With a career spanning more than 30 years in Jamaica, the USA, and Canada, I know that I will never retire. There is so much more work to be done to make the world a better place. I am truly grateful for the education in the arts, which has shaped my view of the world and has served to support all my professional pursuits. The knowledge gained and the skills that were honed in those early years are still relevant and of value in a changing world and will continue to equip me to contribute to building a truly integrated global village.

– This article is one in a series that seeks to promote and highlight the impact of the arts and humanities on the individual’s personal development and career path. Please send feedback to fhe@uwimona.edu.jm

 

Visit camilleisaacsmorell.com

@Camille21162

See the BIG picture.  Focus on what’s important.

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Il y a un grand nombre de définitions du « leadership ».  Peu importe comment vous le définissez, le « leadership » s’agit d’inspirer les gens à réaliser les objectifs.

Le leadership efficace est essentiel pour la réalisation des objectifs, même s’ils ne sont pas liés aux revenus et profits,  l’état futur désiré d’un pays, la mise en place d’un nouveau programme ou la promotion d’une cause.

Il y a aussi la question éternellement posée et considérée : « Est-ce qu’un leader est né ou créé ? »

Je ne vais pas essayer de donner une réponse définitive à cette question.  Je sais qu’il y a quelques personnes qui ont la capabilité naturelle d’inspirer les gens à réaliser les objectifs.  Il y en a d’autres qui, avec du coaching et la formation, sont capables de devenir les leaders performants et réussis.

En tant que chef leader dans les secteurs privé et des OSBL, je suis convaincue que c’est la motivation personnelle qui est primordiale pour le succès dans un rôle de leadership.

Ceux qui souhaitent accéder aux postes de leadership doivent vraiment avoir le désir d’être leader et doivent être motivés à atteindre les buts et objectifs en travaillant avec, et par l’entremise des gens qu’ils dirigent.

Pour déterminer leur propre niveau de motivation personnelle, les leaders futurs et les leaders expérimentés qui considèrent un nouveau mandat, devraient être en mesure de répondre à ces deux questions :

  1. Aimez-vous le pouvoir plus que vous aimez les gens ?
  2. Est-ce que la compétition pour le poste de leadership est plus importante que votre engagement à la cause, vision et objectifs ?

 

LES CHEFS LEADERS DOIVENT AIMER LES GENS PLUS QUE LE POUVOIR.

ILS DOIVENT ÊTRE PLUS ENGAGÉS À LA CAUSE QU’À LA COMPÉTITION.

 

Le désir d’accéder aux postes de leadership et de pouvoir n’est pas « une mauvaise chose »

Dans une société civile, les postes de pouvoir – soient dans les secteurs corporatif, social ou politique – offrent les opportunités aux leaders d’influencer et effectuer le changement qui bénéficie les gens.  Les bons leaders qui font preuve de l’éthique devraient être encouragés d’accéder aux postes dans lesquels ils auront le pouvoir d’aider les gens.

Le désir d’accéder aux postes de leadership et de pouvoir implique la compétition.  La compétition pour un poste de pouvoir devrait être une activité juste et saine, qu’offre l’opportunité à chaque candidat d’expliquer les raisons pour lesquelles il devrait être sélectionné pour le poste.

Un leader authentique devrait  être en mesure de définir clairement –

  1. La vision qu’il a l’intention de réaliser
  2. Comment il va inspirer et engager les gens à s’impliquer à la réalisation de la vision
  3. Les avantages concrets de son mandat de leadership

Leadership – il ne s’agit pas seulement du titre du poste, c’est l’engagement à la cause

Dès que le leader assume son rôle, il lui incombe de démontrer ses compétences, dont la plus importante est, à mon avis, le courage.  Il y a deux dimensions au courage – le courage interne et le courage externe.

Le courage interne est l’engagement inébranlable aux valeurs personnelles ainsi qu’à l’intégrité, y compris la capacité de décider honnêtement si l’on est la meilleure personne pour combler le poste de leadership pour servir l’intérêt de tous.

Le courage public est la capabilité de prendre les décisions difficiles et impopulaires, même dans le cadre de critiques accablantes et injustes.

Voir le tableau d’ensemble.  Cibler les éléments importants.

Chaque leader devrait tenir au cœur le désir et motivation pour servir. Bien que les chefs inspirent les gens à réaliser les objectifs, un leader exceptionnel voit toujours le tableau d’ensemble des avantages principaux et assure les meilleurs résultats pour toutes les parties prenantes.

Plus important que de se concentrer sur la position de pouvoir et du processus pour y accéder, est l’engagement du leader au succès durable de l’organisation, les gens et le pays qu’il a l’intention de diriger.

 

Cet article était originellement rédigé en anglais, en août 2016, à la suite de la campagne Brexit et les conventions nationales des partis républicain et démocrate des États-Unis.

Camille Isaacs-Morell, est un leader chevronné en planification stratégique et gestion de projets marketing et communication dans les secteurs des soins de la santé,  des services financiers, des affaires étrangères et des OSBL au Canada, ÉU et les Caraïbes.  Sa passion est d’inspirer les gens et les entreprises à améliorer la qualité de vie pour créer ensemble un meilleur monde. 

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

 

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Branding-cropped

The haters are having a field day on social media.  The over 3,000 followers of the I hate United Airlines Facebook page have every reason to be cheesed off.

There really is a disconnect between the airline’s renown brand messages – “Fly the friendly skies” and “We are United” – and everything the public has witnessed since April 9, when a passenger was removed from UAL flight 3411.

The video of the bloodied, screaming passenger being dragged off the aircraft and the reports that followed, have left the impression of an airline that is anything but friendly – that customers’ needs don’t count,  employees have no empathy and that the airline will solve problems in its own way.

According to the company’s website, United Airlines’ brand is “more than words on paper.  It is shaped by every aspect of (the) customer and co-worker experience.”  If this is true, should we assume that what happened on April 9 was an isolated incident?  Should we believe United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz’s statement three days later that the incident does not reflect “who our family at United is”?

Although we would like to consider that this was an isolated incident which does not define United Airlines, the behaviour of the CEO has led the public to believe otherwise.  The delayed response and initial statements of the CEO have reinforced his employees’ lack of empathy for clients in favour of operating procedures and demonstrates that there is a glaring gap between the customer experience and the United Airlines brand.    Here’s why:


The aftermath: United Airlines’ brand equity is depleted
In a television interview on April 12, Mr. Munoz said that he felt shame after seeing the viral video and stated that every passenger on the flight would be fully refunded.  Even though he also said that it’s never too late to do the right thing, it will take more than compensation to fix the damage.

It will be a long shot for United Airlines to restore confidence in its promise “to make to make every flight a positive experience for our customers.”  This is because its brand equity has been depleted.  Recent poll results indicate that the incident has adversely impacted the perception and preference for the United Airlines brand, potentially resulting in financial losses.

  • According to aMorning Consult poll that surveyed a national sample of 1,976 American adults, 79 percent of respondents who had heard about United’s recent news said they would choose a different airline if that airline — the poll specifically used American Airlines as a stand-in — offered an identical flight for the same price.
  • Among those respondents who hadn’theard of United’s troubles, only 51 percent would choose an American Airlines flight over an identical United flight, with 49 percent choosing United. The near-exact 50-50 split among respondents who haven’t been following the news about United indicates that the recent incidents have had a massive, polarizing effect on public perception of the airline among anyone who’s been paying attention to the news.

Those who are in charge of United Airlines’ marketing and public relations are best placed to explain if the incident and the subsequent statements are the result of misinformed or uninformed employees and CEO who don’t understand the true meaning of the company’s brand and how it ought to flow through to operations, customer service and communications.  These poll results are a reminder that brand equity losses have the potential to cancel out the fortune spent by Marketing departments and agencies on the careful crafting of brand definitions and deployment of brand strategies.

All areas of the organization play a role in brand credibility and equity

In many organizations Marketing is regarded as “the lipstick on the pig” – the stuff that makes for well-crafted, feel-good advertisements that mask the ugliness of complicated back-office operations and procedures that contribute to unfortunate customer experiences.

Very often the brand and brand promise are defined by Marketing, without connecting the dots to all areas of the business.  When this happens, the back-office is not configured to support the customer experience; customer-facing teams are ill-equipped to serve customers; budgets don’t get approved for investments in training, IT development and operational processes that ultimately impact the customer experience. This is how brands lose credibility and consequently, brand equity.

Brands build credibility and equity when all customer and public touch-points reflect an accurate understanding of customer needs and expectations.

With organizations having access to large amounts of data, customers are increasingly demanding more personalized service with the expectation that communications will be transparent and that customer convenience and needs will be prioritized in operating processes. The language used by corporate representatives at every level or the organization, whether to inform, communicate or react, has to be consistent with all that the company says that its brand stands for.

Invest in marketing programmes and in people

It is not enough for the C-suite to sign off on brand strategies and to be impressed by the number of ‘likes’ on social media and business leads generated by modern marketing technology.  Time and money must also be continually invested to train the C-Suite and all employees, to reinforce the connection between the organization’s brand, corporate values, client service and communication protocols.

Only time will tell if the United Airlines brand will recover from this disaster.  Real work has to start on the creation of a clearly defined brand, ensuring that everything the brand stands for prevails in every aspect of the airline’s operations and in the public’s perception of all its employees, including its most senior officers.

There is much to be learned and corrected by United Airlines.  This is also true for many other organizations.

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com 

@Camille21162

 

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How to turn on the voice of the customer in your B2B content marketing

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A few years ago, one of my colleagues told me that he felt like a teenage boy who got a girl to say yes to his invitation for their first date, but not to the second.

He was discouraged because he couldn’t close his large case sales, in spite being invited to finalist presentations.  He admitted that there had to be something wrong with his sales pitch.  He needed his marketing colleagues to help him nurture business leads before making the sales pitch.

He was right about where he went wrong:  His interactions with potential customers were always about making a sale, not about explaining value propositions that addressed their needs and made them want to buy.

To state the obvious, marketing narratives and sales pitches must be relevant and resonate with potential customers.  With the pressure on marketers to produce content that generates business leads and converts prospects to sales, it is ironic that only 17% of content marketers reported that their organization’s content marketing strategy was more successful when compared with one year ago.

A possible reason for this weak outcome is that there is a lot of content marketing that is more focused on making a sales pitch, which can be a real turn-off.  Even if customers don’t quite know how to define their needs, I believe that it is necessary to incorporate the voice of the customer in marketing communication as a lead in to sales pitches and finalist presentations.

Henry Ford reportedly said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  

And even if they would have said they wanted faster horses, the insight was that there was a real need for speedier form of transportation.

 

 

Three turn-offs

Here are three common mistakes that turn potential customers off, and how to avoid them

1.Large amounts of data and information that don’t add  value.  

Target audiences usually have seen or read about various solutions to the problems and challenges they are facing.  The last thing potential customers need is a rehash of what they already know.  Repetition is boring and so is data-heavy text.

One way of getting around this is to integrate the voice of the customer and highlight insights gained from customers’ input, which could then serve as the starting point to present potential solutions.   By doing this, potential customers see that their needs are deeply understood and are being addressed.  Quotes from industry associations, stakeholder groups and market survey results are generally regarded as good sources that echo the customer’s voice.

2. Jumping quickly to speak about your branded solution in communication material. 

Potential customers don’t initially care about product features and brands.  They have a problem to be solved and they need to know about the pros, cons and impacts of the solution. Promoting a branded product or service up-front can be a real turn-off as it sends the message that the sales transaction is all that matters.

A better approach is to be brand agnostic, at first.  Explain the rationale for the solution options and clearly highlight how the needs identified by the customer are met.  The branded solution can be introduced in a case study and in the call to action for potential customers to make inquiries.

3.Describing features and benefits without validation from a credible source

Potential customers want to hear the voice of other customers who are facing similar challenges and have similar needs.  A call to action that does not ask for a sale, but makes a valuable offer (e.g. demo, time limited trial, consultation) is always appropriate.

The use of a real-world case study or customer testimonial in marketing communication, gives a voice to the customer in front of other customers and adds credibility to the marketing and sales plans.

Vendor or partner

From my own experience in the healthcare sector, the feedback from potential customers and other stakeholders always boiled down to the need for partnerships rather than vendor/buyer relationships.

Potential customers want to partner with providers who deeply understand their business needs

Access to C-suite decision-makers is gained when vendors are regarded as trusted, credible partners.  Credibility comes from using subject-matter expertise to help potential customers think differently about their problem and how the solution options create value for the customer.

Save the explicit sales pitch until after awareness, consideration and preference have been gained and trust has been earned.

Here are a few tips on how to create content marketing material that engages interest and builds trust –

  • Light use of data to validate key issues
  • Succinct summary of the challenges and issues
  • Engage readers by giving each stakeholder group a voice
  • Integrate stakeholder recommendations in the solution proposal
  • Case study and customer testimonial to validate the solution

 

Camille Isaacs-Morell loves social media and enjoys reading articles and blog posts on content marketing. She currently seeks opportunities to contribute to the success of business-to-business enterprises and non-profit organizations in a leadership role with direct responsibility for developing the marketing strategy to support business development and stakeholder engagement.

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.

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Lessons Learned From a Career Crisis

learning

Although it was a dark rainy night in fall, in my mind everything was as clear as day.  That was back in 1994, a year into my first career in Montreal, Canada and I was having the most difficult, in fact the most traumatic experience of my life.  It was I who made the decision to change my life completely.  I migrated to a new country, started a new career and a new life, all on my own.  But on that dark night, the rubber hit the road and I had every good reason to be afraid.  However at the end of another dreadfully difficult day at the office, I was determined to stay the course.

I was struggling in a professional field that was not quite the right fit for me.  My colleagues were unhelpful in an unhappy work environment and it was affecting my performance.  I was in a foreign country with no close family, a very limited social circle and no professional network to help steer me towards other opportunities.  This had never happened to me in my life.  I always fit in, rose to every challenge and succeeded.  In spite of it all, deep down in my soul, I knew I had to keep going.  I wouldn’t “just quit.”

What was ironic was that I really was letting go.  I was letting go of the fear-driven “what ifs?” that had been scaring the living daylights out of me.  On that dark rainy night, I made the decision to change my inner dialogue by courageously answering my “what ifs?”  with “so whats!”

“What if this job doesn’t work out?” – “So what!  I will find a better job.”

“What if I can’t pay my bills?” – “So what! There’s my savings, unemployment insurance and… my parents.”

“What if people think I am a quitter?” – “So what! What people think about me won’t change the world.”

I was determined to allow the Universe to let this messy situation unfold and to make sense out of it.  I just knew that I would be okay.  Here’s what I learned –

  • We all know our truth. Being authentic can be difficult.

The fear and angst were rooted in my struggle to fit the bill of an educated, young, confident professional.  I was supposed to live up to everything I was taught – strive to achieve my goals, to never ever give up, be strong in the face of adversity.  The reality was that I wasn’t being authentic, even though I already knew my truth – I was not in the right professional field and my soul was dying.

Many people don’t live authentically.  We live in a world that describes what success ought to look like.  By staying in a job that was not right for me, I was keeping up professional appearances and what I thought were other people’s expectations.  It takes guts to step off the beaten path and take the road less travelled.  Not everyone will understand why, and they will tell you that you are making a mistake.  If you listen to your inner voice, you will find your truth – what’s right and meaningful for you.

path

  • It’s not worth the effort to hang on because of the fear of losing what we think is valuable.

The job paid well and I could afford a very good material quality of life.  On the other hand, I was holding on to a job in which I wasn’t able to give of my best talents and gifts in a work environment that was wrong for me.  My soul was dying a slow, painful death.  If I quit, there was the real risk of financial hardship.

So it was decision time. I had to choose between fear and courage.  I chose courage.

It was the courage to see beyond the surface and to dig deeply within to find out I really wanted, what really mattered to me and what were the next steps I needed to take.  I knew that I had to leave that job and get on my own path.  And I did.  Once I had honestly confronted my fears I was ready to take a leap of faith. In the face of uncertainty and risk, I made some responsible decisions about how I was going to leave and move my career forward.  While introspection was the starting point in all of this, I actively sought help to support the process.  I was amazed at the number of people who were willing to offer good advice and who had “been there, done that” and could help me find the things I needed to get through this crisis.

courage

  • Never let a crisis go to waste. There’s always something to learn.  Some good will emerge in the aftermath.

As it turned out, this personal and professional crisis not only taught me some important life lessons, but I gained some very useful work experience.  I eventually moved on to another company where I had a very satisfying and rewarding career in marketing.  I can safely say that much of what I learned in my previous job has given me the business acumen needed to make critical decisions, manage budgets effectively and lead with greater confidence.  All of this has taught me to never let a major crisis go to waste.

crisis

Throughout my career, these three lessons have guided me to make decisions that are right for me.  It’s all about finding my life’s purpose and living authentically.  The organizations where I have worked, their clients and the community have all benefited because I am offering my best self, serving passionately and using my talents to the fullest.

I do believe that we’re all in constant evolution and that it is through life’s events – whether times of crisis or calm – that we somehow find direction for our life’s journey.  It takes courage to confront the fears that compromise our well-being and prevent us from living authentically. It’s well worth it.

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Several business people wander through a maze looking for a job

When I published the article “You’re hired!”…and it took me a year, I had no idea that I would be looking for work three years later.  Back then, I had just concluded an intensive search after my position in a stable, global financial institution was abolished, ending a successful career that progressed nicely over 16 years.

When I accepted the offer for a permanent full-time position the following year, it was not quite the dream job I was looking for, but I was convinced, and still am, that I was forging a new path to take me to the next level.  In fact, I deliberately disrupted myself.  It was a newly created job with the mandate to develop and deliver a marketing strategy for products I had never marketed before.

Two years in, there were budget and staff cutbacks.  I sub-consciously knew that the time to move on was fast approaching.   Last summer, my position was eliminated.

Although it’s cold comfort, I realize that I am not alone.  I’ve met many mid- and advanced-career professionals on the job search trail.  I see the struggles to remain positive, diffuse anxiety and stay the course.  My career transition experience has given me some insights on stumbling blocks that can potentially derail a job search and how to avoid them.

  1. Other people’s stories are theirs, not yours

During my networking, I’ve met many people who’ve “been there, done that” and they tell their stories of how they got through it.  The Winners, who took only 2 to 4 months to land on their feet; the Whiners who give very detailed explanations as to why they won’t ever get hired (age…, conspiring former bosses and colleagues…, no one hires in summer… etc.) and the Copped-Out & Lucked-Out who boast about the luxury of being able to retire early so they avoid looking for a job.

Then there are those who haven’t “been there.” They have never lost their jobs.  They are really Secretly Scared that this could happen to them, while they hint that they pity you and don’t envy you.  There are also the Helpers and Hinters who in an awkward effort to provide good advice, actually end up saying exactly what you don’t need to hear (“You’re doing something wrong, otherwise it wouldn’t take so long…”) or they send you job postings that are no match for your skills and experience.

It’s so easy to buy-in to other people’s stories.  Comparing your experience with other people’s stories is a waste of time and energy.  The truth is you need to own your story.

Instead of trying to explain your story, make a commitment to yourself to be clear on what’s best for you.  Only you can make sense of your life’s journey.  Only you really know the things that motivate you and ultimately matter to you.  Very few people will understand your story.  Most people are trying to figure out their own story and others don’t have the time or are not really interested in listening to yours.

The temptation to set low expectations and settle for less becomes real when you compare yourself with other people. It takes courage to say “no” to seemingly good opportunities in order to say “yes” to the very best.  You are not a loser if you haven’t found a job within a given timeframe or if you made it to the final interview but didn’t get the job.

Even if you don’t have the financial independence to prolong your search, if you accept a position out of necessity, remind yourself that you can work while continuing to search for your dream job.

  1. The corporate ladder is an obsolete metaphor

Job seekers, who have progressed over many years in one company, tend to be overly concerned with titles, organizational structures and status.  In most progressive organizations today, dotted lines, flat organizational structures and collaborative team environments are the norm.

I agree that people should look for challenging work that fits their experience and expertise.  But looking for a job with a title that fits into the next step on the corporate ladder can prevent you from finding enriching opportunities for meaningful work that expand your talents and capabilities.

The truth is that we are living in a new corporate world order where the corporate ladder is fast becoming an obsolete metaphor.

Sheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In, encourages professionals to forget the corporate ladder and consider careers in terms of a jungle gym. You can venture down different paths and explore numerous possibilities on the way to achieving your goals, just like trying to climb to the top of a jungle gym.  It took me quite some time to get this during my career transition four years ago.  I am glad I did, as I ended up finding an interesting opportunity which has broadened my experience not only professionally, but in my volunteer work and social life.

  1. Being stuck really sucks!

Following on my two earlier points, getting stuck can happen very easily if you can’t define what you want or if your definition of what you want doesn’t fit in the new corporate world order or with your values.

I’ve come across a few people who are stuck within a destructive ‘my way or the highway’ mindset, hanging on to what was and what will never be, taking job loss personally and feeling victimized.  When corporate priorities change, it so happens that some jobs are no longer needed. That’s why no one should take a layoff personally.

I know that it can be a drag to be out of work and pounding the pavement can be tough.  But here’s the upside:  going through a career transition can be the best opportunity to reorient a career.  On reflection, many people thank their lucky stars that they had the chance to move on, rather than stay stuck in a career that was no longer meaningful.

Most successful careers rarely ever follow a smooth, upward north-eastern trajectory.  Compromises and disruptions do occur along the way.  The truth is that compromises can be beneficial.

Speaking from my own experience, the job with a lower salary with less formal influence may just be what you need to gain more relevant experience in a changing world, while applying your past experience in a way that is beneficial to the organization and to your career in the long run.

 

Take ownership and responsibility for your career transition

The world is waiting to embrace talent and you have a fair shot to offer yours. Don’t let people, old ideas or a closed mind derail your job search.  The power to shape the future resides within each of us. That’s why it is important for every job seeker to take ownership of their career transition.

When you can clearly articulate to potential employers, who you really are and why you care, they will see that the value you bring to their organization is far greater than what you know and what they expect you to do.  This sets the stage for you to find meaningful work and for your future employer see you as a true partner, stakeholder and contributor to the organization’s success.

 

You may find the following articles helpful –

Career mistakes you must avoid@Deepak Chopra MD (Official)

Forget the Ladder; Try the Jungle Gym: What Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In Says You Can Do for Your Career Right Now – Maggie Malon

It’s called a life, not a life sentence!  How to move forward when you’re feeling stuck@Michaela Alexis

 

Camille N. Isaacs Morell is a proven marketing strategy and business development enabler. She is passionate about inspiring people to make decisions that support business success.  

She currently seeks opportunities to contribute to the success of enterprises and non-profit organizations with direct responsibility for developing the marketing strategy to support business development and stakeholder engagement.

See the BIG picture…Focus on what’s important

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

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